Skeletal Radiology

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 111–115

Bone island (enostosis): current concept — a review

  • Adam Greenspan

DOI: 10.1007/BF00198072

Cite this article as:
Greenspan, A. Skeletal Radiol. (1995) 24: 111. doi:10.1007/BF00198072


An enostosis or bone island represents a focus of mature compact (cortical) bone within the cancellous bone (spongiosa). Thought by some to be a tumor-like condition and by others a hamartoma, this benign lesion is probably congenital or developmental in origin and reflects failure of resorption during endochondral ossification. A bone island can be virtually diagnosed based on its characteristic clinical and radiologic features. Typically asymptomatic, the lesion is usually an incidental finding, with a preference for the pelvis, femur, and other long bones, although it may be found anywhere in the skeleton, including the spine. Plain radiography reveals a homogeneously dense, sclerotic focus in the cancellous bone with distinctive radiating bony streaks (“thorny radiation”) that blend with the trabeculae of the host bone, creating a feathered or brush-like border. On CT scan, a bone island appears as a low-attenuation focus, and on MRI sequences it shows low signal intensity like cortical bone. A distinguishing feature of bone islands is that they are usually “cold” on skeletal scintigraphy. Thus, bone scan has been and continues to be the means of differentiating bone islands from the more aggressive entities. However, reports of histologically confirmed bone islands that were scintigraphically active have raised a note of caution about relying on this modality in the differential consideration of lesions otherwise characteristic of bone islands. Guides to the correct diagnosis should be looked for in the individual clinical situation and in the morphologic features of the lesion on plain radiography, CT, and MRI, without regard to the lesion's activity on bone scan. If such a lesion, however, is symptomatic and “hot” on scintigraphy, it demands close observation with follow-up imaging studies.

Key words

Developmental anomaliesBone, sclerosisBone islandEnostosisScintigraphy

Copyright information

© International Skeletal Society 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam Greenspan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyUniversity of California, Davis School of MedicineSacramentoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Diagnostic RadiologyUniversity of California, Davis Medical CenterSacramentoUSA